Isn’t It Irrational To Believe In God?
by Andy Bannister
A charge that you’ll hear some people make is that religion in general and Christianity in particular is irrational. It’s ridiculous to believe in God, they say; there’s no evidence that he even exists! Richard Dawkins, in his best selling book The God Delusion makes this very claim, saying that faith in God is just like belief in Santa Claus!
But of course, there’s a major problem with comparing faith in God to belief in Santa Claus. I don’t know anybody who came to believe in Santa Claus in adulthood. Yet I know plenty of Christians — often former atheists — who discovered God as adults. This alone would tell you that Santa and God are utterly different. (If they weren’t, one wonders why Richard Dawkins didn’t write a follow up booked entitled “The Santa Delusion”). Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of great thinkers — now, and throughout history, have believed in God. That suggests that belief in God is hardly “irrational”.
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But what about the other claim: “you can’t prove God exists!” What might we say to sceptical friends who say this? Well, we can start by gently pointing out that there are many good arguments that, whilst not proving God exists, certainly suggest that his existence is extremely likely. There are philosophical arguments, such as the cosmological argument: (i) everything that begins to exist had a cause; (ii) the universe began to exist; (iii) therefore the universe had a cause. Most philosophers would say that’s a powerful argument.
There are also arguments from design. The universe and the laws of nature look, as one physicist once put it, suspiciously like a put up job. Or we might talk about the purpose that seems to be inherent in life…
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